International unions

Three big disputes

Author: 

Bob Carnegie

The most important industrial disputes that I’ve been involved in were the 1985 SEQEB (South East Queensland Electricity Board) dispute; the maritime dispute of 1998; and the 63-day Queensland Children’s Hospital construction workers’ dispute of 2012, after which I had a long battle against both criminal charges and litigation for civil damages.

An interview with Bob Carnegie in 2015 about the most important industrial disputes he was involved in, the 1985 South East Queensland Electricity Board dispute; the maritime dispute of 1998; and the 63-day Queensland Children’s Hospital construction workers’ dispute of 2012.

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The political journey to Trotskyism

Author: 

Bob Carnegie

I always had a strong underlying humanist bias. I tended not to view things not just from an ideological viewpoint, as was the rule in the SPA [Socialist Party of Australia, a “hardline” pro-USSR split-off from the Communist Party of Australia]. My moral break from authoritarian state-capitalism, or Stalinism, which still infects the Australian left and the Australian trade union movement to a much larger degree than people realise, took a long time. I would say it took from 1979, when I joined the SPA, to the final break in about 1994.

Bob Carnegie described his political itinerary, from young cadre of the Stalinist movement through Maritime Union official to anti-Stalinist revolutionary, in an interview with Workers’ Liberty in October 1999.

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Early years in the movement

An interview with Bob Carnegie about his early years in the labour movement

Looking back, the watershed moment of the modern Australian labour movement was really 1975. The Governor-General sacked the reforming Labor government and put in the conservatives under Malcolm Fraser to govern instead. Workers organised a huge surge of strikes and demonstrations in response; but the union leaders limited and deflected the movement. After that, the left-wing ferment of Australia’s early 1970s subsided quite fast, thought the trade union movement remained strong. You would have been in your early teens then. Do you remember what you made of it?

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Hutchison: fighting for jobs, 2015

Within days of Bob taking office as MUA Queensland secretary, the union faced a major dispute. On 6 August 2015, Hutchison, the world’s biggest container operator, summarily sacked half their workforce in their Brisbane and Sydney terminals, 97 workers out of 194. The sacked workers ran a 24/7 protest line at the Brisbane and Sydney terminals, with the support of the workers not sacked, who were called in for minimal working hours but handled very little traffic.

Within days of Bob taking office as MUA Queensland secretary, the union faced a major dispute. On 6 August 2015, Hutchison, the world’s biggest container operator, summarily sacked half their workforce in their Brisbane and Sydney terminals.

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Fighting for workers’ rights

Author: 

Bob Carnegie and Martin Thomas

Below is an article from Workers’ Liberty Australia, jointly written by Bob and Martin Thomas, setting out ideas at the beginning of the battle against WorkChoices, in 2005.

In 2005, John Howard set out plans to bring in anti-union legislation more drastic than former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ever attempted in one instalment, and arguably more drastic than the sum total of the whole long series of laws introduced by Thatcher’s government through the 1980s.

An jointly written by Bob and Martin Thomas setting out ideas at the beginning of the battle against WorkChoices, in 2005.

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The importance of democracy

Author: 

Bob Carnegie

Bob wrote about the dispute at the Queensland Children’s Hospital construction site in 2012. The hospital is now named the Lady Cilento Hospital.

An article Bob wrote about the dispute at the Queensland Children’s Hospital construction site in 2012.

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Comrade Hand Grenade

Author: 

Bill Hunt

The Builders Labourer, the journal of the Builders Labourers Federation of Queensland, carried this tribute by Bill Hunt to Bob Carnegie in 2008 when Bob decided to step down as a full-time organiser with the BLF to return to work on the sites.


By now many if not most of our members will be aware that Bob Carnegie is no longer an organiser with the BLF Bob has a job with Grocon as a peggy [site cleaner] and is looking forward to reacquainting himself with the rank and file.

The Builders Labourer, the journal of the Builders Labourers Federation of Queensland, carried this tribute by Bill Hunt to Bob Carnegie in 2008 when Bob decided to step down as a full-time organiser with the BLF to return to work on the sites.

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Fighting the mine bosses in West Papua

Author: 

Rosalind Robson

In May the US mining company Freeport McMoRan sacked 3,000 workers at the Grasberg copper and gold mine in West Papua, Indonesia. Workers had just begun a 30-day strike protesting against the company’s furlough policy — the temporary laying off of workers because of breaks in production.

Mining companies around the world wield tremendous power; they right roughshod over workers right to organise, and are implicated in wider human rights abuses. Everywhere they are responsible for environmental damage.

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Sodastream exploits precariousness of Palestinian workers

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Last month the Israeli union federation, the Histadrut, filed a law suit against Sodastream claiming that the company was disrupting workers’ attempts to organise. One testimony is from a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem and Sodastream employee whose wife is a West Bank resident and whose children have severe medical problems.

The reliance of Palesitinan employees on permits from the Israeli state is a weakness that employers can exploit.

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US socialism and organising against Trump

Jason Schulman, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, co-editor of New Politics, and author of Neoliberal Labour Governments and the Union Response, discusses the challenges facing the US left under Donald Trump.

Jason Schulman is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, co-editor of New Politics, and author of Neoliberal Labour Governments and the Union Response. He spoke to Solidarity about the challenges facing the US left under Donald Trump.

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